As a number of my readers may be aware, I occasionally step away from legal analysis and into the world of personal and professional development. The focus of today's topic is the online trend of “Dear hiring manager”, which has become somewhat of a phenomenon on networking site LinkedIn. I often spend time looking at these posts, enthralled by the subsequent comments which I find to be quite grating. You might argue that I am a grown man and it has become my natural right to express annoyance at today’s youth; now that I am safely in another generation of course (“back in my day…”). However, that is not what I am about preferring instead to look at the matter from an outside perspective, offering objective insight. I feel compelled to add, I am thoroughly looking forward to my retirement, sitting on my porch, yelling at children to stay off my lawn.
According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) adult education is defined as, “a country’s adult education level as a percentage between the ages of 25 and 64 years of age, who have completed tertiary education in the form of a 2 or 4-years degree”. According to these statistics, the highest-ranking countries: Canada 56.27%, Japan 50.50%, Israel 49.90%, Korea 46.86%, the United Kingdom 45.96%, The United States 45.67%, Australia 43.74%, Finland 43.60%, Norway 43.02% and, Luxembourg 42.86%. That is an average of 46.84% in skilled labour available between these countries. This is one of my areas of study, but I will refrain from turning this into an article on Macroeconomics and human capital.
The point of expressing these statistics is that graduates now find themselves in a degree saturated market. At the risk of reverting to economics, although microeconomics this time. When there is a surplus in the market, quantity demanded decreases and so does value; the good in this instance is skilled labour. In the current economic climate, with advancements in technology and the availability of skilled labour, the minimum entry requirements are now increasing. Firms now have the option of choosing masters level graduates or more specialised level of labour for what remains of entry-level positions. Advancements in technology and again the availability of skilled labour has dramatically reduced entry-level jobs and by obvious extension entry-level positions. The point I am trying to make is; hiring managers and firms are inundated with applications from skilled applicants which is why minimum requirements increase because of the need to narrow down candidacy. This is not a personal attack on graduates, it is a natural reaction of the market. As a point of reference for how saturated the market is with degree qualified jobseekers, it is now possible to undertake a formal qualification in Harry Potter Studies at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom. Trade qualifications are now increasingly being replaced with degree qualifications studied in conjunction with work placements.
Job hunting as a graduate in these times is not easy, I do sympathise, but the following comments and trends are not the fault of hiring managers and rejection is not a personal attack on the applicant. Dear hiring manager: please do not advertise a position externally only to fill it internally, please reply to candidates who have taken the time to apply, behind every resume is a person, please don’t send generic rejection letters, etc.
A reminder again to graduate jobseekers, this is a hiring managers market due to surplus in quantity supplied. They do not dislike you or want to discourage you. Most of us will always face a certain level of rejection. Put yourself into the shoes of the hiring manager, you get hundreds if not thousands of applicants. It is not feasible to meet and examine each one in detail, procedures must be put in place. Naturally, the reaction is, increase the minimum requirements of the job, absent individual knowledge, or the means to obtain that knowledge feasible follow the constant which is academic level and standing. Next, limit it to those who have sought additional practical experience. Further, examine for good grammar, technicalities and demonstrated knowledge insight into what you do. Then you are faced with two similar applicants one internally and one externally, maybe the internal applicant is not as well qualified but is still suitable. Who do you recommend for the position? If it were me, I would recommend the internal applicant. Providing an avenue for promotion is the best workplace motivational tool a firm can offer its employees; it is in recognition of an individual’s hard work. I will ask a question, how would you feel having worked hard for an organisation for many years when finally a job you are suited for and deserve an opportunity arises; then this job is given to someone who has demonstrated no time or loyalty to your organisation. I personally would be very upset, angry, and unmotivated. This in my opinion would be a significant failure on the part of the hiring manager who has now successfully managed to isolate and demotivate the workforce. I should point out in Europe there is a legal requirement to advertise a post both internally and externally. It is not feasible for a firm to contact every single applicant nor would it be efficient; it would be a significant drain on resources which will then affect hiring capabilities in the future. That may seem extreme, but all these seemingly little things can add up to something bigger and affect the overall performance of an organisation.
So, what is the solution?
Keep your head up. It is difficult, it is demotivating and sometimes it does feel like a personal rejection. Remember it is not, do what is practical to separate you from just another applicant, put a face to it.
Network. Find out about an organisation, send emails expressing interest in certain projects, get to know them at a semi-personal level. This all shows that you are engaged, interested and a potential asset to them, you are now ahead of all other blanket applicants. While in University, take advantage of workplace schemes, vacation schemes, employer events and again, get to know the recruiters.
Extracurriculars. Why is your degree different to that of the other applicants? Go the extra mile, get involved with societies, write an article, spread awareness. Simply, go beyond just completing your degree; create your own experience in the absence of opportunity.
My final point and it follows from my last sentence; when there is no work, create your own. Due to Covid-19, the economy has been set back dramatically, lots of industries may take years to recover, some businesses may never reopen. However, there is always opportunity and as the saying goes necessity is the mother of all invention.
Entrepreneurship, you do not have to have millions in the bank and a line of willing investors to start your own business, find something small and build from there, this is the cure for recession and lack of experience. As stated previously, in the absence of formal opportunity for experience, create your own. On that point, I will finish this article and wish you all the best in your endeavours.